Thursday, December 27, 2007


So my office is closed today due to the inclement weather. It's not really snowing that hard but it is frigid outside. And I mean frigid, 17 degrees frigid to be exact.

I'm not complaining about having a surprise extra day off. I got all of our Christmas presents put away & all of the dishes cleaned up from our Christmas Eve party with my family. The laundry is almost all done. And I have swept & dusted the upstairs. And it is only 2:00.

Unfortunately I will not be able to play for the rest of the afternoon. I have to go outside and shovel the driveway & sidewalk before it gets dark. But once that is done, I will be able to do whatever I want. Not sure if I will sit & read a book or play with my new bedazzler.

Yes I got a bedazzler for Christmas. I am very excited about it. I know that I am a dork, it's OK. I have wanted one for quite sometime, but have never been able to justify spending money to buy it.

Christmas was pretty mellow around here this year. I did not really get into the Christmas spirit until about a week before. We did not even get the tree up until the 16th. And we normally have our up the first weekend in December. We spent Christmas Eve with my family. And we drove through the snow to Greeley to spend Christmas day with Ben's family. It was the first time that I spent Christmas away from my family so it was a little strange for me. But all was well.

Here are a few pictures from our weekend:

Our Christmas tree all decorated. Those were the only presents that made it under the tree before Christmas Eve this year....

Christmas Eve with my dad's side of the family. Yes, the TV is on because the Broncos were playing so the game had to be on.
And Christmas day with Ben's brother's family & his Grandpa Jack & Aunt Linda (she took the picture)

Guess I have procrastinated enough.... I really need to go shovel so I can get it done while it is still light outside...

Monday, December 17, 2007

So I have been eating this super easy, super yummy lunch lately. It looked very appetizing today so I decided to take a picture of it. Green Giant has come out with these frozen veggie mixes that you steam in the microwave. I like the Healthy Weight & Healthy Vision varieties. All I add is the shrimp. The veggies are lightly seasoned too, which makes them very tasty. Now to figure out how to make on my own so I don't get bored with them.... That will probably have to wait until the new year though.

Friday, December 14, 2007

spools and spools and...

I discovered that I have a few spools of black thread. 11 to be exact. (I found 2 more after taking this picture!) They multiple like rabbits apparently when I'm not looking.
This doesn't count the 3 or so that I threw away because the thread was rotten. Nor does it count the black special threads I have. I have black button thread, black upholstery thread and black serger thread too. And I wonder how many more spools I have tucked away in odd places.
Apparently I need to start sewing more so that I can use up all of this thread. And I need to come up with a cool project for all of the empty spools I will have. Right now the wood ones go into a mason jar for decoration but the plastic ones & styrofoam ones go straight to the trash.
Got any ideas of what I can use empty plastic spools for?

Monday, December 10, 2007

6 months later...

WARNING: this is a wee bit long.... It has been 6 months since I read Life Beyond Headaches. It has been 6 months since we found the wonderful Dr. Randy James, the atlas orthogonal specialist, who has fixed Ben's headaches. It has been 6 months since headaches stopped ruling our lives.

833 days ago Ben got the "worst headache" of his life. It came on suddenly on August 29, 2005 while we were folding laundry before bed. Ben grabbed the right side of his head because the pain was so intense. The area above his right eye was visibly swollen. It felt like someone was stabbing a spike through his eyeball. Ben had gotten headaches like this in the past (just not quite as intense) so we were not concerned. He took some medicine & went to bed.

That day we had been working on laying flooring in our condo. It was also the day that Hurricane Katrina hit. Nothing too out of the ordinary that would cause such a horrific headache. But it was the day that his headache started & took control of our lives.

In the days & weeks that followed we went to the ER at least 5 times. CT scan, xrays & MRI all came back clear. The spinal tap came back clear. Nothing looked to be wrong. At this point we did not have a diagnosis. All they did was pump him full of narcotics & steroids.

Our first neurologist called it a "chronic migraine" and only wanted to inject him with botox. But before insurance would cover that, you have to try 3 other migraine treatments. So we tried 3 different drugs, topamax, maxalt, and DHE treatments. None did anything to relieve the headache though. The pain was so bad that Ben could no longer work. Looking at a computer for any length of time increased the intensity of the headache. Being under fluorescent lights increased the intensity.

After the 3 treatments & 3 months, the doctor said there was nothing else he could do except try the Botox. Not wanting that, we researched other options & found the Michigan head pain clinic. The neurologist signed off on it. And we were all set for an appointment Dec 19, 2005 for a 2 week examination. But insurance would not cover it, since it was out of network. We could not afford the $10,000 fee so we were back to square one.

We found a new neurologist who called it "chronic daily headache". She recommended physical therapy & some more drugs. After about a month or so, the physical therapy started to help. The intensity of the headache would lessen. Not go away, but would lessen. With the physical therapy, Ben was able to go back to work.

His physical therapist felt that there was something wrong with his neck though. Every time Ben would come in, the right side would be locked down, like it was protecting the spinal cord. The worse his headache was that day, the tighter the neck was locked down. The body was trying to say something was not right.

So she recommended we go see a neurosurgeon she worked with. The neurosurgeon looked at his MRI, CT scan & xray. What he found was cervical spinal stenosis. And what he told us was that there was nothing he could fix. Yes, his spine was "ugly". But fixing it to make it look pretty was not going to make the headache go away. And he would not do neurosurgery to fix "ugly". (Which we were very thankful for, really who wants surgery especially near the brain if it's not going to make you better.)

So he recommended we go see a pain management specialist. We started seeing him in June 2006. The specialist decided that nerve blocks were the best way to proceed. Se we started the nerve blocks between his C2 & c3 vertebrae. The first one proved to be successful. It was 2 weeks before our wedding. Ben was essentially pain free. It last through our wedding and through the honeymoon. It allowed us to not think about the headache & enjoy our special day. But then pain started to come back. So they did another nerve block. And another. And another. And another. The time between nerve blocks was getting shorter each time when it should have been getting longer. So the PM specialist tried nerve blocks in other places on his cervical spine. But by Dec 2006, the nerve blocks were no longer working & he told us there was nothing else he could do. So again we were back to square one.

We asked the neurosurgeon & PM specialist to recommend a neurologist for us. And we started seeing our 4th neurologist. He diagnosed it as a chronic headache. And had us try a few other drugs. At this point, I also started researching headaches to see what I could find. I found a couple of different drugs (indomethicin being one) that we had not tried & so the doctor let us try them. Still nothing seemed to work. And there were no other headache drugs to try. So after about 4 months, he also said there was nothing he could do, we were going to have to just live with the headache.

Desperate for an answer, we went to the library to see what we could find. I knew that there had to be a why for the pain. And until we knew the why, we were not going to be able to treat the pain effectively. The past 29 months had taught us that much. And that was where I found the miracle that changed our lives.

After 4 neurologists, 3 specialists, countless tests, ER visits, doctors appointments and even more countless drugs I found the why. The "why" was that the C1 vertebrae was at a 45 degree angle. Remember when I said that the neurosurgeon did not fix ugly. Well, this was the ugly. The "ugly" was the cause of the pain. We spent 2 1/2 years treating a headache. And it wasn't a headache at all. The pain was actually referred pain from the vertebrae being off & rubbing nerves the wrong way. The vertebrae being off was what caused the neck to lock down. That was why the physical therapy helped, the vertebrae would slip back into place. And that is why the nerve blocks worked, they deadened the nerve that was being rubbed.

And once we found the why, we were able to quickly improve the pain. Within 3 months Ben was able to function without worrying about the pain. And now 6 months later, we rarely have a time where the pain rules our life. Let alone the days & weeks that it used to. I can't even remember the last time the pain caused him to need drugs or a nap or caused us to miss out on something.

So yes, finding that book & find Dr. James 6 months ago really was a miracle. Because without it we would still be living our life in limbo trying to get rid of the headache. Now we are able to focus on the future. And once the collateral damage the pain caused is fixed in our life, the headache will only be a bad memory.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I love iTunes

I absolutely love iTunes. I love that I can listen to the music of other people I work with. I just clicked on a new person's music that I had not explored yet. And ran across a band I have not listened to in almost 10 years now.

It's a band I was introduced to in college by my roommate Natalie. The band was SonVolt. We went to their concerts together every time SonVolt was in town. I remembered the words to both songs I listened to so far. It brought back some very good memories & times I have not thought about in a very, very long time.

I love that with a click of the mouse, it was all there for me. Gotta love technology sometimes.

Oh, and Beth, when you read this, does it freak you out that it's been almost 10 years??? EEK! It did me when I was proofing this...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Goodbye Heffalump

So today is surgery day for Ben. They are going to repair the incisional hernia by shoving his insides back in where they belong. Woohoo!!!

We have been referring to his growing mass as his heffalump. So last night I made him a t-shirt with a heffalump on it. The head is the actual size of the hernia. (It's a little large, huh?)

He even has a little song that he has been singing (to the tune of "My Humps" by Black Eye Peas):
My lump, my lump, my lovely heffalump.

Side view so can see how far the lump sticks out

Updated 3:06 pm- they actually took him back for surgery on time! Right before they took him back, they gave him the "good" drugs. Boy he as goofy. He was playing with his surgical cap making it into a beret & talking in a french accent. Very silly :)
updated 5:06 pm- he's out of surgery & it went well. They did use the cadaver skin stuff. It's called Alloderm. So his heffalump has now been deflated.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Tuckered out

The life of a dog is soooo exhausting. Lily & Sammy played so hard outside, they needed a nap. And of course had to be in the middle of everything, so they napped exactly where I was working. Aren't they cute though?
(The paper shreds are not from the dogs. We were shredding old credit card statements & bills. And every time I emptied the shredder, some little pieces fell out. And they both had to be right there by me.)